You know, I’d like to thank the whole world. I love America. It’s been really good to me, man. And the only thing that saved me from drug addiction and alcohol and allows me to be here now is having this kind of face. How the heck did I know I was gonna look like the man, Jack? I am what America can foster, if you allow America to work in your life.
-Joe Richards, Jack Nicholson Impersonator
Cohen Gallery is pleased to present This Kind of Face, an exhibition of photographs and videos by Los Angeles-based artist Siri Kaur.
The works on view are selected from an ongoing series Kaur started in 2006 to capture impersonators who spend much of their daily life as costumed celebrity look-alikes. Kaur initially set out to photograph the moment when the subject of a photograph lets down their guard and cracks appear in the everyday performance of the idea of self. Impersonators offer an exaggerated instance of this schism, representing conflict on the surface of their bodies in the uncomfortable conflation of their everyday existence with the aggrandized construction they attempt to embody. We see the impersonator in an ordinary, natural habitat: Cyndi Lauper on a motel mattress, Abe Lincoln in a Southern California backyard.
As we look closely at the subjects of Kaur’s photographs we see people who are not quite living out fantasies of being the rich and famous. Rather, they are look-alikes in the business of being a doppelganger, providing a tangible vessel for the audience’s already media-saturated imagination. Like her subjects, who fashion themselves after specific glamorized Hollywood and media constructions, Kaur found herself over the course of the project impersonating the production of celebrity photographers such as Richard Avedon and Bruce Weber. The formal structures of her photographs morphed as she expanded the scope of her practice. She imitated Hollywood industry headshots and US Weekly paparazzo pictures, and created her own 4x5 photographic versions of Warhol’s Marilyns and dictators. In other images, mundane moments reveal themselves, rendered both poignant and uncanny by Kaur's formal eye: Superman talking on the telephone, Saddam Hussein cracking a smile, Marilyn Monroe shyly crossing her hands together. Together the pictures in This Kind of Face function as playful hybridic references to the multiplicity of possibilities existing within the expansive field of photographic portraiture.
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SIRI KAUR received her M.F.A from The California Institute of the Arts, and an M.A. and B.A. from Smith College. Her work has been exhibited nationally, including solo shows at Blythe Projects (LA), 99 Cent Plus (NY), and The Vermont Center for Photography (Brattleboro, VT) and group shows at the Aperture Foundation (NY), The Portland Museum of Art (Portland, ME), Angles Gallery (LA), Soho Photo Gallery (NY), The Camera Club of New York, The Torrance Museum of Art, and The California Triennial of Photography at the Museum of Photographic Arts (San Diego). Kaur’s work has been reviewed in ARTFORUM, art ltd., Art Practical, The Los Angeles Times, and The Washington Post, and has been featured in Marie Claire, Installation Magazine, Of the Afternoon, and The Huffington Post. In 2014 Leroy Press published Kaur’s first monograph, This Kind of Face. She lives and works in Los Angeles, where she serves as Associate Professor at Otis College of Art and Design.